Restaurants increase sales with 27% by adding one menu design element

 In Branding, Visual Communication

Menu design has become an art form, from the first modern version of the menu in 1765 by Pierre Boulanger, which was a large poster in the front door with the special of the day. Menu design has become an art-form of guiding your dinner’s attention to the love you have placed in devleoping each dish by choosing freshest ingredients, prepared in the most delectable way.

Time is of the essence

You have 109 seconds to say what you want to. According to a study by Gallup, an average patron would spend 109 seconds reading a menu. So your menu should be easy to scan through with the section broken down, making it easy to find the category you are craving.


Traditional Menu Focus Point
Traditional Menu Design Focus Point

Menu Design “Sweet Spot”

With the help of eye tracking technology the rumour of a sweet spot has been busted (Yang’s Study). Previously it has been believed that the top right spot is prime real estate for high-profit dishes and usually been allocated to sea food. It has now been proven that menus are read like books, left to right, top to bottom. However, it does not hurt to use the sweet spot as we have become programmed that a menu follows a certain order.

Taste buds tingling with phrasing

“The mind knows not what the tongue wants,” said Howard Moskowitz, and by adding a description to menu items paints a picture that gets the mouth-watering. It has been proven by a study at the University of Illinois that sales increase by 27% if they used descriptive labels. In this study with Dr. Brian Wansink, they have proven that customers feel more satisfied with their meal using descriptions, for example, Tender Char Grilled to Succulent Perfection T-Bone against T-Bone.

Imagining how it will taste, increase the value of meals and dinners are willing to pay 12% more (Cornell University). Don’t oversell with the descriptive word, use them wisely keeping the description to the point.


Colour in food play a role in how appetising it displays
Colour in food plays a role in how appetising it displays

Colour to awaken the appetite

According to colour theory, certain colours trigger hunger, these tend to be the warmer colour such as yellow, orange and reds. Green has become synonymous with healthier foods. Don’t think there is anything to this, just have a look at the photo of blue scrambled eggs and tell me it makes you hungry? However, blue used correctly in menu design could symbolise freshness such in seafood focused restaurants. Colour could also be used for grouping of information

Lucky no.7

The more we have to choose from the more anxiety we feel. So what is the magic number per food category? Lucky no 7. When a menu item has more than seven they will choose their default and not try something new or more profitable according to Rapp. Also, they feel that they might have made the wrong choice.

Nostalgia evokes happy feeling
Nostalgia evokes happy feeling

“Kuiers” are around food

In the South African tradition food has always been involved with a get-together. If it is Christmas, Wedding or Birthday we will always eat. With the connection of happy times and food, you can evoke happy feeling using nostalgic words in you descriptive language, Gogo’s Chakalaka, Christmas Cookies and Ouma’s Beskuit.

Mouthwatering Photos

When adding photos alongside food item sales increase by 30%. Having too much photos can cheapen the perception of the restaurant, and high-end restaurant tends to shy away from photos entirely, play to your crowd. Also, the quality of a photo plays a factor, photographers are trained to style a dish in an appetising manner, so budget extra for those mouthwatering photos.

Sales increase by 30% if paired with photos on a menus
Sales increase by 30% if paired with photos on a menus

Bury the prices

A restaurant’s focus is the food, and the number one mistake made on menus according to leading menu engineers is by placing the price list neatly in a column where you can easily look for the cheapest item. Place the price after your description, that way you bring the focus back to the food, leading the eyes to the description and making a decision on taste and not cost.

Remove the Rands

The obvious reason for removing the currency symbol from your menu design is you want to remove the unpleasantness of cold hard cash from the enjoyable meal. An additional befit of having a cleaner menu without the repletion of “R” is that guest actually spend more (Study by Sybil S. Yang)

Friendly numbers

Psychologists have noticed that numbers play a roll in shopping and different numbers have different connotations, this is why specials usually end with “.99”. Example prices ending with .99 propose value but not quality, .00 has a formal suggestion. The magical number has been found to be .90 as people find this “friendlier”

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